The Health Secretary visited QEH to see for himself the structural roof issues and agreed that there needs to be a long term solution for the hospital.
During the visit Matt Hancock met with senior leaders including the Chairman of the Trust, Professor Steve Barnett, and the Chief Executive, Caroline Shaw CBE and was updated on the progress QEH has made in delivering improved patient care as it continues on its journey of improvement. He met staff from across the hospital and thanked them for their all their efforts during Covid-19 and was delighted at their role in successfully delivering 58,000 vaccines so far.
James invited the Health Secretary to come to the hospital to see first hand the situation where there are 200 props in more than 40 areas of the hospital supporting the RAAC (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete) hospital roof. Matt Hancock was briefed on the proactive work the Trust is doing to improve the safety of the hospital following the welcome £20.6 million of capital investment for this year. That funding will allow the hospital to create decant facilities for wards and theatres to allow installation of failsafes in year one of a three year programme.
As well as the short term funding, James and the Trust made the case for a long term solution and for QEH to be part of the government's new hospital programme. QEH is developing a Strategic Outline Case building on the proposal it submitted last year.
Speaking during the visit, Matt Hancock MP said:
The hospital here is seriously in need of improvement. It is pretty significant when you go into a ward and there are wooden struts up holding the roof up. Now they are there to keep it safe and the team and the structural engineers assure me that is safe.
Clearly we need to sort this problem. I wanted to come and see it for myself. James Wild has been campaigning to make sure we get the long-term solution.
We're investing in the NHS. We've put in place the short-term action needed to keep this hospital safe. Let's work together on a long-term solution."
Commenting James said:
It was a pleasure to welcome the Health Secretary to QEH to recognise the incredible effort of staff during COVID and in the successful role out of the vaccine programme.
Since being elected, I have campaigned for increased investment in the QEH so I am pleased that the Health Secretary accepted my invitation to see the challenges that patients and staff face from the structural issues affecting the hospital.
I will continue to champion the case for QEH to be one of the government’s new hospital schemes as this is crucial to continued improvement in patient care and health outcomes for people in West Norfolk and beyond.
During the visit, Matt Hancock unveiled a plaque at the Trust’s new surgical facility, the Sandringham Unit. QEH acquired the 26-bed former BMI hospital in Autumn 2020, leading to an improved elective surgery experience for patients and their families. The Unit was instrumental during the Trust’s fight against the second wave of COVID-19 by providing a dedicated facility for urgent surgery to continue. It is critical to the Trust’s elective recovery programme and tackling the backlog in treatment that has built up during the pandemic.